Apple Mac Pro review

With a unique design and tremendous power, this is the workstation to beat

Apple Mac Pro Late 2013
The new Mac Pro has had a radical design rethink

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According to Apple, the new Mac Pro redefines what is meant by expandability. This is achieved by using three Thunderbolt controllers, six Thunderbolt 2 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The new Mac Pro is expanded by adding external peripherals rather than internal components, though the graphics cards, solid state storage and memory sticks are user replaceable.

Apple Mac Pro Late 2013

The new Mac Pro takes Apple's design flair to a new level

The new Mac Pro is around an eighth of the size of the previous generation by volume and a quarter of the weight. Because its components are built around a single thermal core, only one fan is needed. Therefore it's quiet enough to use on top of your desk instead of under it. Its small footprint and great looks mean it's very welcome as a desktop computer too.

We liked

The Late 2013 Mac Pro is gorgeous to look at, but it's what's under the lid that really matters. With twin enterprise-class graphics processors, a super-fast solid state drive that gives excellent read and write speeds and a powerful Xeon E5 processor, the new Mac Pro is the most powerful Mac Apple has ever built. The one reviewed here wasn't quite the top of the range (it had an eight-core CPU, not the 12-core chip), but it certainly impressed in our performance tests. Running Batman: Arkham City at 48 frames per second in Ultra HD quality is no mean feat, and imagine how quickly games will run when they're optimised to use both graphics processors? If you're a high-needs user, the new Mac Pro is exactly what you need.

We disliked

Not everyone will welcome the switch to the new, smaller form factor. Where the previous generation of Mac Pro let you slot new hard drives into its four bays, or replace the graphics card with an industry-standard PCI Express card with only the firmware distinguishing it from the PC version, expanding the new Mac Pro is largely achieved with external devices. This isn't ideal, as they need separate power supplies and take up room.

Also, we can't understand why the new Mac Pro is sold with no input devices. With its sleek black looks, it's crying out for special-edition black versions of the Apple USB or wireless keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad.

Final verdict

Not everyone needs the power and performance offered by the new Mac Pro, and not everyone can afford it − but wouldn't you just love one? It's a masterpiece of engineering.

Fresh ideas such as the unified thermal core and backlit expansion ports, and high-performance components like the Thunderbolt 2 ports, Xeon E5 processors and FirePro graphics cards, combine to make the Late 2013 Mac Pro the ultimate high-end Mac.